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Planning minister protests WB comments on growth

He sees no scope to challenge BBS data

FE Report | April 12, 2018 00:00:00

Mustafa Kamal

Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal has protested the World Bank's comments on Bangladesh's economic growth, asking the global lender to amend its latest update by next month.

He urged the bank to sit with the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) for gathering knowledge about the questions it raised on different government data and to bring changes in its just-published Bangladesh Development Update report.

"I am requesting the World Bank to sit with the relevant department of BBS to get clarification on the government data. And then the bank will have to amend its report by May," he said.

He was talking with reporters Wednesday in Dhaka.

"I am angry at this moment. The World Bank has raised question over the GDP (gross domestic product) growth and other economic issues. No development partner in Bangladesh has raised questions about the BBS data in the past," he added.

He also urged the Asian Development Bank to verify the government data on the economic growth and other issues sitting with the national statistical agency.

The World Bank report expressed doubt over the government's GDP growth projection of 7.65 per cent for the current financial year (FY) 2017-18 and raised the question over different data and statistics.

The bank forecasted a 6.5 per cent GDP growth rate for the current fiscal year, a 1.15 percentage points lower than the government's provisional estimates of 7.65 per cent.

"The World Bank and the ADB have no data. They use our data and analyse the economic scenario of Bangladesh. They never generate data. They just give their assumptions on the economic issues considering our data," the planning minister said.

There is no scope for assumption on the economy, he added.

He said Bangladesh had a big informal economy, which contributes much to the GDP.

Asked about the contribution of the informal economy to the GDP, the minister said, "We do not have the data. So I can't tell you about its contribution and its size at this moment."

"But I can say that some 49 per cent of the total remittance inflow into Bangladesh is coming through the informal channel and the rest 51 per cent through the formal or banking channel," he added.

"I know that the BBS's capacity has increased a lot. So, its data must be authentic. There is no scope to challenge the data it has produced," the minister said.

The minister insisted that the economy at the end of the year is expected to surge at more than 7.65 per cent rate.

Mr Kamal said that Bangladesh has already achieved the developing country status, graduating from its Least Developed Country (LDC) regime.

"Bangladesh is now at the level of developing countries like China, India, Brazil, Indonesia etc. Bangladesh must be a developed country by 2041," he said.

The minister, however, hailed some comments and points of the bank.

The minister also talked about the quality development budget expenditure, saying that the conditions of the highways, especially of the village roads, are not so good.

The agencies use bitumen for constructing roads, which is not a right decision as Bangladesh is a rainy country, he said, adding the ministry formed a committee, headed by the Parliamentary Standing Committee Chairman on the Planning Ministry, to analyse the possibility of constructing the concrete road instead of bitumen ones."

"If we find it to be viable, we'll go for concrete roads in the future," he said.

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